After Fugees alum Wyclef Jean laid out his plans for Haiti and publicly announced his bid to run for the country’s presidency on Thursday’s Larry King Live, actor Sean Penn slammed the musician’s bid, warning against corporate influence potentially driving Jean’s decision.
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“This is my first time announcing it live that today I went in and I signed and I’m running to be the president of Haiti,” the Fugees alum told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. After taking up nearly half the show discussing Jean’s plans for the country, Blitzer turned to Penn for his thoughts.
“I had thought I would reserve judgment but after paying attention to the things that were said…,” Penn began. “I’m not accusing Wyclef Jean of being an opportunist, I don’t know the man.”
However (and despite emphasizing that Jean is an important voice) the actor still launched into a steady critique of Jean’s comments, influence, and the forces leading behind his campaign.
“I worry that this is a campaign that is more about a vision of flying around the world talking to people…I would be quite sure this was an influence of corporations,” Penn charged. He doubts Jean is someone who would be “genuinely willing to sacrifice” to do what is necessary to improve the dire conditions in Haiti.
Jean spearheaded major fundraising efforts through his Yéle Haiti Foundation after a 7.0 earthquake did major damage to the country this past January. He said that with his connections, he can bring international awareness and assistance toward the needs of the republic. “After January 12, I would say over 50 percent of the population is a youth population,” Jean said. “And we suffered for over 200 years. Now that our country has a problem, it’s a chance to rebuild from the bottom on up.
“And I don’t even say I’m trying to be president. I’m being drafted by the youth of Haiti. Right now is a chance for to us bring real education into the school, infrastructure, security and proper jobs. So, this is some of the reasons that I’m running,” he said.
Penn took a dig at Jean’s efforts, saying that while he was in Haiti for the past six months he “hasn’t seen or heard” from Jean.
Haiti will elect its new leader November 28.